Half past seven, I was awoken by familiar sounds I haven’t heard in a long time; crowing of rooster, cow’s mooing, birds tweeting and my parents early-morning conversation which had brought me a pang of nostalgia and at the same time comfort and happiness. These and the scent of grilled pork accompanied by cool weather had me jumping out of my bed.
One thing I terribly missed is the simple life in the province, away from the hustle and bustle of a city. You’ll get to see animals you probably will never find in a city, the trees, plants, and of course you get to breathe fresh air. That was amazing!
It was our second day in the beautiful Tagaytay and we planned to make the most out of it. As early as six in the morning, my father and my “bilas” (husband of my sister-in-law) went to the nearest town market to buy something to eat before we go out. Our menu for that day were; grilled pork, grilled fish, pork “sinigang” (pork in tamarind soup), with fruit and vegetables. Tagaytay prides itself to being one of the leading exporters of the sweetest pineapple in the Philippines. Everywhere you look, if not buildings, you’ll definitely see pineapple crops.
It has been a tradition for a Filipino family that whenever they get together and whenever a family is complete, they boodle fight. Boodle fight is when you present all the viands and rice on top of banana leaves and be readily available to eat using your bare hands. And our family is no exception! You should try this, it’s fun! Plus factor: we ate at a Nipa hut cottage, Pinoy na Pinoy (true-blooded Filipino).
After the very sumptuous lunch and when everybody has showered, we were back on the road. It was past 12 noon, the sun was up but the cool breeze of the wind compensated to a rather humid feeling. We were off to picnic grove to ride the zip line (it was our first) and to possibly explore the volcano crater. On the road, we passed by different agents with a placard of Taal Volcano hiking. These agents were representatives of different travel agencies or different hotels and they offer different prices for the hike. Tip: Know how to haggle. We were a group of nine so it was hard to find a boat that can accommodate us. For security reasons, as local ordinance, the maximum people that one boat can take is up to seven people. As a result, no negotiation has happened on the road. We headed straight to Picnic Grove, then.
Picnic Grove is one of the most popular spots in Tagaytay and one of the best spots to get a magnificent view of Taal Volcano. From the name itself, families can bring their food and “picnic” at the place as cottages are everywhere. It is also very famous for Zip Line activity and its cable car.
Entrance fee: 50php per person and 30 or 50php per car
The entrance fee is exclusive of the zip line ride, the cable car and the use of the cottage.
Upon entering Picnic Grove, we were already treated to astounding view of the volcano and its neighboring town. I cannot reiterate it enough, the view was simply amazing!
Inside the grove, we inquired to at least about three agents about a visit to the volcano, and nobody can provide a boat that can accommodate all of us. The cheapest price we were offered was 2000php per boat and we needed to take two. Aside from the boat, we also need to pay the “environmental fee” upon arrival on the island at 100php per person and another 500php for the tour guide. The trip, they claimed, will take up to four hours and we just didn’t have that time. Since we needed to be back in Manila same day, we declined and we just promised to visit the crater on our next visit.
We headed down further and crossed a hanging bridge made of wood, up all the way to the Zip Line starting area. It was a very short line, barely a minute but we were excited to try it. It was nothing extreme but it was definitely thrilling. 300php for a round trip ride was actually worth it.
After picnic grove, we headed to Mahogany street to buy souvenirs and some chips or local delicacies. After that, we headed back to the restaurant where we dined the previous night to try their very own “pansit” (Filipino-style noodle) and to ask for some “bulalo” (beef shanks soup).
Even though we didn’t get to trek the Taal Volcano, we undoubtedly had so much fun. If only we had more days to do this, we definitely will. This trip was extra special not only because the place was marvelous, but more importantly because, I am with my family. And it couldn’t get any better than that.